Local Chinese law enforcement authorities raided a gathering of members from the Bible Reformed Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong on June 10.
According to the website China Aid, authorities arrested Pastor Huang Xiaoning and several other church members.
“20-30 government officials broke in (to Bible Reformed Church) while I was delivering my sermon and asked us to stop gathering,” Huang told China Aid. They also ordered us to submit our ID cards.”
The authorities held the pastor and the parishioners in their office, interrogating them for several hours.
The local communist ethnic and religious affairs bureau also notified the church they would be fined.
“Today (June 20), the church received punishment notices from the municipal religious affairs bureau, the district religious affairs bureau, and the sub-district office,” Huang continued.
The citation demands the church pay a 50,000 yuan ($7,685.45 USD) fine for holding religious activities.
The local authorities allege the church’s activities violated Article 41 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs. According to China’s religious rules, all buildings used for religious purposes must be registered with the state and subjected to state censorship in order to be considered legitimate religious venues, China Aid reported.
Huang says the Chinese constitution also gives Chinese citizens religious freedom, which the religious affairs bureau suppresses. According to China Aid, the church will take legal action “in order to become witnesses on God’s behalf.” Huang has already retained a lawyer and will demand a court hearing.
“I’ve been a pastor for nearly 20 years,” Huang told China Aid. “I don’t (own) a car or a house. I don’t owe anything. Awhile ago (people) asked me, ‘Pastor Huang, aren’t you afraid of being fined?’ I answered, ‘No, I don’t have any money for them to confiscate.’ They also asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being imprisoned?’ I said that I never feared imprisonment since I never even feared death.”
According to China Aid, the local law enforcement authorities have pressured Huang’s congregation to join a group of government-approved churches, which the church has refused to do.
“They used both diplomatic and violent measures,” Huang told China Aid but did not elaborate.